This blog originally appeared on the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) website. PRGN is a connected network of 50 public relations firms serving key markets around the world. The author is Robert Bauter of our Austrian affiliate, asoluto.
Is a college degree necessary to work in PR? In my opinion, no, a formal certificate of any kind is not necessary to work and thrive in PR – as many agency owners, PR managers and employees without a degree can tell you from their experience.
But having said this, of course, there is something to add. While the certificate itself is just a piece of paper and the title is just a combination of a few letters, the meaning of a title and a certificate – and thus of a college degree – lies in the skills and qualifications it indicates. Those qualifications are more relevant than ever to a successful and satisfying career in the communications industry, but it’s all about those skills and not about where you earned them.
No matter what it is called in the various countries – college, universidad, université or วิทยาลัย – this kind of educational level implies that you have studied various techniques that are hugely important for PR pros like:
- Researching information – knowing which sources are promising, relevant and credible
- Assessing large amounts of information in a short time and finding out the main points and messages
- Being able to sum up dispersed information and quickly find the common points
- Learning to present and defend ideas, findings and results
- Critically interpreting results from surveys, studies and other sources to separate serious stuff from garbage
- The ability to introduce thoughts, lead discussions and convincing others to listen to you
- Anticipating questions, objections and resistance – and preparing the right answers and tactics
- Showing communicative intelligence by listening to others, respecting and valuing different opinions, while sticking with your own arguments
- Being able to listen to others patiently, to reflect yourself critically and to express yourself unmistakably
All those qualities are essential for a career in the vast field of media (and not only there!). It’s not important where you gain and train them but that you have them in your professional toolbox. You have them without a degree? Great, be proud of it. You have a college degree? Fine, but never forget that once you leave college, the journey only begins.
What’s your opinion on college degrees? Leave your comment below.